While traveling in the EU, with both a Visa and Mastercard issued in another country within the EU, does it have disadvantages if both the cards are debit cards?

Would one need a credit card for the sole purpose a debit card is not accepted but a credit card would be?

If ordering products online from a EU country, are there possibilities of credit cards being accepted and debit cards not?

  • Differences between credit and debit cards are floating and depends on the issuing bank. It also depends on the conditions of the issuing bank if a debit card can be used for online payments. Nov 2 '17 at 13:17
  • I know that many german online shops accept credit cards, but not "debit cards". Most of them have a "direct debit" option though, that is linked to the bank account but doesn't care about whether a debit card exists or not. Also, shops may put up rules (almost) as they like, such as not to accept credit cards from a first time customer, different fees, ....
    – Sabine
    Nov 2 '17 at 13:44
  • In the UK either card may attract a surcharge, but more often the credit card. From January 2018 adding a surcharge to any card payment will be illegal in the UK. Nov 2 '17 at 18:34

No, European countries generally don't differentiate between credit and debit cards. Whether it's best to pay with one or the other depends entirely on which card is more convenient on your end. The only exception is major car rental companies, which normally require you to hold a credit card for a rental. Hotels and other places which might put a hold on your card don't care if it's credit or debit.

On the Internet all cards are generally accepted as well. Some airlines like to cheat you a bit by charging you more if you pay by credit card, but you would be informed about the surcharge before you pay. I've also seen an obscure exception where the US embassy only accepts debit cards for visa fee payments, but that's obviously of no relevance to US visitors.


You would need a credit card for renting a car, or for other deposit-style transactions (like checking in a hotel where they want to have a pending charge to cover potential minibar usage, etc.).

Otherwise, debit works just fine.

You should be aware of the significantly higher risk associated with debit card usage; if someone incorrectly charges you, the money is gone from your account immediately, and it’s your problem to go after it (and survive for weeks without it); with a credit card, you simply call the bank, and you never paid the amount.

  • 4
    Note that if you use a credit-card-style debit card to rent a car or hotel room, those pending charges ("holds") will lock up a portion of your bank account balance for a significant time. A real credit card is better for these purposes. Nov 2 '17 at 13:00
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    Everything you wrote in the last paragraph is not generally true, but depends on how the issuing bank handles fraudulent charges. My experience with my bank is the exact opposite. A fraudulent charge to my debit card was reversed and cancelled immediately with the funds available again for use, while a fraudulent charge to my credit card caused my bank to suspend the card and spend several days reimbursing the charge and issuing me a new card. Nov 2 '17 at 13:04
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    @JimMacKenzie If a merchant places a reservation on a 'real' credit card, it will lock a part of your credit limit instead. That is not necessarily any better. Nov 2 '17 at 13:06
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    @JimMacKenzie You've got to define “reasonable”, many people in continental Europe will have a 1-2k limit and a single credit card. We don't use them the way they are used in North America.
    – Relaxed
    Nov 2 '17 at 13:13
  • 2
    @Relaxed That's a fair point, but I'd still rather that $1,000 of my ability to borrow were tied up as opposed to $1,000 of my actual cash. Nov 2 '17 at 15:00

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